Whoosh… The map slowly unfurled in the air, revealing the names of all nations around Cathay and the names of all feudal officials sent out by Hell.
Qin Ye gasped and slowly walked over to it. He gently ran a finger across its surface. This was the result of Hell’s glory that spanned thousands of years, and yet they had all become feudal lords that were hot on Hell’s tail right now.
It’s fine if these were just territorial lands that had been historically claimed by the old Hell. But what I’m most afraid of is that these fertile lands are ruled over by an impressive feudal lord who commands an army that I won’t be able to resist… I don’t want Hell to be a temptation to these men. I cannot afford to let Hell be a temptation to them!
“Are they… all still alive in their respective underworlds?” Even Oda Nobunaga couldn’t help but gasp at the sight of their names.
Everyone was completely flabbergasted. There were districts of red located all around Cathay, each of which represented the fiefdom of twelve feudal officials. Furthermore, each of the twelve feudal officials… were celebrities in their own rights, whose reputation and fame had spread far and wide to the furthest recesses of the surrounding nations.
These were the names of legends and great heroes that had lived centuries ago. Yet, faced with the sudden prospects that these legends could end up becoming their foe, the leaders of Hell were filled with a confluence of complex emotions.
“I’ve once heard that Cathay once used to have eleven vassal states and one special garrison. They didn’t possess their own mythology. Rather, I should say that their folklore and myths weren’t sufficient to fulfil the conditions for the establishment of their own underworlds.” Arthis looked at the names with great emotion and continued, “Thus, after their annexation, Cathay sent eleven feudal officials and a special garrison official to these lands, and they were henceforth named the twelve envoys.”
“Envoys?” Qin Ye asked as he stared at the names with great disbelief. Each of these names were names of people that he admired greatly.
Arthis withdrew her gaze, and her voice grew somber, “The word ‘envoy’ gives us an insight of the sheer might and influence of the old Hell. It’s almost as though the entire East Continent were tributaries of the old Hell, and none could escape from the reaches of Hell. We were once unassailable and domineering.”
Qin Ye retracted his gaze and sighed wistfully.
Unfortunately, these twelve envoys are now looking back at Cathay just like how we once used to look at them. Of the twelve… who’s still loyal, and who’s turned traitorous?
“Lord Tangming, better known as Zhou Gongjin!” He read out the first name on the list and couldn’t help but lament, “To think that he’s still alive… such a great name… is actually still alive and kicking in the world that exists underneath the mortal realm!”
Unbelievable… simply unbelievable. Zhou Yu’s feats have been watered down by the manner in which the Romance of the Three Kingdoms is depicted. According to historical records, the main force of destruction that crushed Cao Cao was not Zhuge Liang, but Zhou Yu. His illustrious victories were what the Eastern Wu kingdom was built upon! Unlike his depiction in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he wasn’t a petty man, and he was never a rival of Zhuge Liang, nor was his death triggered by the same. In other words, the historical novel had simply wanted to portray Zhuge Liang as a myth with 100 points in internal affairs and 80 points in military affairs, and the best stepping stone in that regard was naturally to put down Zhou Yu.
Without Zhou Yu, who would even have heard of the folly of 800,000 troops residing on ships that were chained from stern to stern? Without Zhou Yu, how could one possibly come up with the stratagem of injuring oneself in order to win the enemy’s trust? How could an army of 30,000 men possibly come up victorious against 800,000 troops at the Battle of the Red Cliffs?
The prospects of squaring off against such legends and myths made Qin Ye’s hair stand on end. Oda Nobunaga was silent, yet his eyes were evidently blazing with passion and a deep intent to do battle.
“Lord Qin.” Oda Nobunaga suddenly stepped forward and cupped his hands respectfully to Qin Ye, “If Zhou Gongjin rises against you… please grant me the honour of facing him in battle!”
Qin Ye didn’t respond right away. He knew full well just how widely proliferated the Romance of the Three Kingdoms was in Nippon. One could even learn of the historical novel through Nipponese animations! In this regard, a confrontation between the Demon King of the Sixth Heaven and Zhou Yu would practically be one that transcended time and space!
“He may not necessarily rebel against us…” Qin Ye rubbed his eyes and muttered, “As far as Zhou Yu is concerned… Sigh… forget I said anything. I can’t be certain either. Nobody can be certain of anything. After all, both Eastern Wu and the old Hell are no longer in existence, so who can say what’s running through his mind right now?”
How much benevolence could one reasonably expect of an evil ghost that had existed for over a thousand years?
Not even Zhou Yu might be able to hold back the thirst and desires of his heart.
“I understand.” Oda Nobunaga stepped back in line once more, and yet his eyes continued to blaze passionately, “But if he is to turn traitorous, please… leave him to me!”
The likes of Zhou Yu is far greater than Tokugawa Ieyasu or Takeda Shingen, the Tiger of Kai.
This is the type of opponent that I, Oda Nobunaga, can only dream of!
Qin Ye pointed to the map and continued, “Lord Tangming once established a feudal state known as the Lan Xang Kingdom, which was largely made up of Laotians. In the second year of Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, the Lan Xang Kingdom was officially recognized as such by the Ming Empire. Incidentally, this was also when the first major ethnic group of Cathay, the Lao Loum, first appeared in the nation… This is definitely a place that cannot be ignored.” 
Nobody responded, yet their eyes were filled with great sobriety. The Lan Xang Kingdom may not have made their name known in recent years, but add Zhou Gongjin to the mix, and they would indubitably still be able to make waves!
Furthermore, one simply cannot look at underworlds through the lens of the mortal realm. For instance, even though the mortal realm Hindustan has taken a beating throughout history, they still possess one of the strongest, most esteemed underworlds in the world right now.
This was the power of faith and belief.
Qin Ye suppressed the rippling emotions in his heart and looked towards the second red dot, “Lord of the Khmer Empire… Guo Ziyi… One of the two generals who made a name for themselves at the An Shi Rebellion. With such great achievements under his belt, it’s no surprise he was appointed as lord… I’m just going to speak my mind about these things. I’d like everyone to mull over and analyze which of these persons might be our enemies, and which ones--…”
He drew a deep breath, and then continued with a bright gleam in his eyes, “Which ones would pledge their allegiance to Hell once more after learning about the establishment of the new Hell!”
There’s bound to be some…
There will definitely be some who are willing to pledge their allegiance to me! I refuse to believe that every single one of them will act like Emperor Wu of Song did. Even if only one or two are willing to return to Hell right now, our roster of generals will still receive an incredible boost in power!
“Lord Qin, hang on a moment.” Just then, Su Dongxue suddenly stood up, bowed respectfully, before heading out of the annex hall. She returned approximately fifteen minutes later, bringing two men with her into the room.
“These are?” Qin Ye found the two old men somewhat familiar. They appeared to be in their eighties, and had probably died of old age. One was tall, while the other was short. As soon as they saw Qin Ye, they immediately cupped their hands respectfully to him.
“He’s a famous historian of Insignia Province, and has served as a consultant lecturer on several TV stations in Cathay back while he was still alive. On the other hand, he’s a history professor in the largest college in Insignia Province, the Insignia University. His achievements and accolades in the field of history are almost unparalleled in his time.” Su Dongxue explained calmly, presumably because she wasn’t talking about handsome men, “The man on the left is Professor Li Zhengchao, while the man on the right is Professor An Huai. I took notice of their relatively illustrious resumes and made a mental note of it. My Lord, do you think--...”
“Well done.” Qin Ye nodded. Hell was lacking in talent - especially highly skilled talents like the two men standing in front of him right now.
He was pleased with how Su Dongxue had been avidly carrying out her duties as the head of the Death Inquisitors. Talents and skill need not necessarily be innate and inborn. In fact, most talents were only deemed as such because of years of nurturing. In that regard, Su Dongxue had clearly been trustworthy with the little responsibility she had been given, and she had proven that she could handle more.
Conversely, those who rest on their laurels and quickly grow complacent would never find themselves in Qin Ye’s inner circle. He was willing to cut talents out just as much as he was willing to go out of his way to pick up foreign talents. Relationship meant little to him at this point in time.
“Professor Li, Professor An, perhaps I’ll hand over the time to you then. There’s no need to say too much. We simply need to know from a historical point of view what each person’s character is like, which of them is likely to return to their homeland and pledge allegiance to us once again, and which of them… is likely to turn against us in half a year’s time.”
“Yes.” The two professors adjusted their glasses and made their way towards the map. As soon as they saw the names on it, their breaths suddenly quickened, and their eyes darted about each and every red dot on the map as though they had just seen ghosts.
The entire annex hall was filled with sounds of the professors’ heavy breaths, interspersed only by the professors’ unwitting exclamation - “How is this possible…” “This person… is still around in the underworld?” “That’s a famous general… a reputable ancient warlord whose name flows in the river of history like a glowing star… how could this person still be in Hell right now?” “Dear heaven… if we can enlist his help, no… if any single one of these historical figures are willing to pledge their allegiance to us, it would be a massive help to Hell as it stands right now!”
No one else interjected or disturbed them as they continued to analyze their profiles and recall the knowledge that was buried in the recesses of their minds. After ten full minutes, the two men finally turned around with bloodshot eyes. Even their voices were trembling slightly as they reported back, “Your Majesty… this is… this is truly unbelievable…”
Professor Li shuddered, “These people… all possess the talent and qualifications to conquer the world! Even though modern warfare in the mortal realm is quite different, but… from what we can glean of Your Majesty’s earlier announcements, the battles of the underworlds largely still take place in the absence of firearms. If that’s the case, then these people… would undoubtedly be famous generals, each of whom can turn the tides of war on their own! Even if only a single general joins the ranks of the new Hell, it would still be a great addition to our forces!”
Professor An propped up his glasses repeatedly in excitement, “Of course, the population size of the underworld would be far more numerous than their mortal realm counterparts, but… so long as you can get these twelve people to join us, we can most certainly rest easy moving forward! Our military would improve by leaps and bounds! That said, I daren’t say much about the influence they might have over politics, since modern and ancient governance styles are vastly different.”
“It’s fine. You may speak freely.” Qin Ye waved his hands dismissively.
“Yes!” The two men gulped excitedly. It thrilled the two professors to be able to analyze such historical celebrities, especially given the prospects that the twelve envoys were still alive and kicking in their respective underworlds. An Huai pointed to Guo Ziyi’s name and began, “Let’s start with each individual fiefdom and their corresponding might. The one thing I’ve discovered is that the feudal officials appear to have been conferred territories in an intentionally haphazard manner. For instance, the Great Viet should have been a fiefdom most suitable for Ma Yuan, also known as General Ma Fubo, one of the great military generals of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
“Even Mount Fubo in Guilin was named after him. Furthermore… he was the ancient founder of the modern iteration of sandbox war simulations. Ma Yuan was best known for his depiction of the terrain on the battlefield using grains of rice heaped into piles where necessary. In fact, that was the first recorded instance when a military commander used a 3D map on the battlefield.”
“And that’s not all. His conquests back in the day took him all the way to the lands of Jiaozhi, or northern Great Viet, where he slaughtered rebel groups so much that he completely quelled all uprising. After stabilizing those lands, Lord Ma erected two bronze pillars on the new border as a symbol for the people and a warning for all rebels. The bronze pillars were etched with an inscription - “Crush the statue, Jiaozhi falls”. With that inscription in place, the natives of the Great Viet didn’t dare to destroy the statues, and they would only go so far as to throw pebbles at the statues as they were passing by. These pebbles piled up over time, forming a small mound known as the Fubo Mound, which still exists to this day. Therefore, there’s no doubt that the man best suited for the job as the lord over Jiaozhi is none other than Ma Yuan. I daresay that so long as Lord Ma Fubo takes the fiefdom over Jiaozhi today, nobody would dare to rebel against him.”
Arthis responded, “If that happens, would it be considered Ma Fubo’s Jiaozhi, or would it still be known as the fiefdom of Hell?”
The two men paused for a moment.
Arthis snorted coldly, “It’s precisely because of this reason that we simply can’t afford to let him return to Jiaozhi. This is also why the man appointed as feudal lord over Jiaozhi was instead Gao Changgong, the Prince of Lanling.”
“Continue.” Qin Ye didn’t mind such discourse. He sat down with a bright gleam in his eyes, “I’d like to hear how much of a name each of these twelve envoys have made for themselves in their own time. More importantly, I want to know… how many of them still have their hearts with us today!”
1. He will be introduced in greater detail later on, but here’s a link if you want to know more on the man mentioned for now. He’s also called Zhou Yu, but unfortunately I can’t find any records on why the author calls him Tangming. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Yu
2. Thirty-fourth of the Thirty-Six Stratagems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty-Six_Stratagems
3. This is quite an amazing one. Cao Cao had forces of 800,000, most of which were deployed on warships that were chained together from stern to stern, presumably to minimize seasickness. Zhou Yu recognized that he was severely outnumbered, so he converted his fleet of ships to fire ships by filling them with incendiaries. Then, he sent a division out on the fleet on the pretext that they were defecting. When they drew close enough, the division set fire to the ships and escaped on smaller boats. The unmanned fire ships were carried by the wind and sped towards Cao Cao’s fleet, setting it ablaze. With the entire army in confusion, Zhou Yu led the rest of the forces and assaulted the rest of Cao Cao’s forces, coming out victorious. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Red_Cliffs
4. Lan Xang was another name for the Lao Kingdom that existed in a unified state from 1353-1707. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lan_Xang
These two chapters were some insane research chapters. Each one took me 4-5 hours to translate because of the reading up, but it was also thoroughly satisfying when I finished. Hope you guys enjoy the rigour! These guys are gonna be important for the arc to come!